Lessons I’ve Learnt As An Intern.

Hey guys and happy Tuesday!

So today I thought I would do a blog post that has been requested a lot recently. As you will know if you follow me on other forms of social media, I have recently just secured a job as content executive for the fitness and nutrition section of Gymshark Central. This means not only will you be seeing my stuff here but I will also be working my magic over on the Gymshark blog – so make sure you check that out! Anyway, this blog post is not about my new job, (don’t worry, that is on it’s way) rather this is about how I got there and the lessons I learnt along the way.

I have interned a fair bit. As someone who wants to go into the media and journalism industry, internships are an essential part of the journey. They’re hard to get and even harder to manage the feeling of being a small fish in a massive pond and make sure you stand out when you get there. I have definitely taken a lot from each one of my internships. All had their ups and downs and I made a lot of mistakes along the way so I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learnt and what I wish I would have known before I started. This is going to be a long one so get yourself a cuppa and get comfy – you could be here a while.

I write this having secured a job, but my life as a ‘newbie’ is certainly not over. This brings me on to my first lesson. You are never too good to learn new things and continue to grow your skills. It is likely that your internship is going to be unpaid, or be paid a very small amount that will struggle to buy you a days worth of food in central London (can you tell I am speaking from experience?). It is also likely that you’re not going to walk in on your first day and be given a huge feature piece to write – life is just not that kind. Try new things and never think you are above anything. Offer to make tea and coffee, offer to tidy the cupboard – make yourself useful. Be willing to learn, be willing to rough it, be willing to stay in hostels with 6 strangers because that’s all you can afford. Just be willing. It will be off.

As well as being willing, it is also important to be active and useful. It is likely the company you are working for have interns in all the time. If you don’t show them that you are an active and useful person to have around, chances are you won’t be around for long. It’s brutal, I know, and something that is very difficult when you’re nervous (which it is very normal to be). An important balance to strike is between being inquisitive and being useful. It is easy to get carried away asking questions that you become more trouble than you’re worth. Be inquisitive about the company and people you are working with but remember that they have a job to do. You want to be useful but not annoying.

My top tips for ensuring you demonstrate your uses within the company and make a lasting impression are as follows:

  1. Find Jobs: There will always be something that needs doing but these things are not always obvious. If you’re totally lost, ask if you can get anyone a cup of coffee and do some research. At Women’s Health, there were usually things I could be getting on with, but if not I went through the magazines and started working on research for reoccurring features. I gathered loads of journal articles and drafted articles. Yep, they all got changed but I made an effort and wasn’t just sat twiddling my thumbs.
  2. Talk to people: Chances are you’re going to be asked to do a fair few menial tasks so you might as well make the most of them. If you’re making coffee chat to people in the kitchen. If you’re running errands make sure you chat to people in the lift or on reception. If you use every opportunity to talk to new people and expand your network then no task is menial.
  3. Everyone loves a compliment: Know your audience and compliment them. Everyone likes to be liked and a small compliment can go a long way. I like to make sure I know the people I am going to be working with, what they have done and what they’re working on at the time. ‘Oh, I loved that article you wrote on super foods last month, it was a great read!’ – you’ve shown you know about their work and they feel good about themselves. Win, win.
  4. Know what you want from a conversation: You’ll probably know this if you have ever networked. The chances are your time with an individual is brief so know what you want to get from the conversation and make sure you get it.
  5. Follow up: Another networking tip that is also crucial after you’ve finished your internship – follow up! Send an email to say thank you or pitch some ideas. I would recommend doing this within 2 days but just do what feels best.

Lastly, it is important to know your worth. You know your skills and your ability but they don’t. Work hard and show them what you’ve got but never been made to feel worthless. Yes, make the coffee and clean up, it is part of interning. I learnt early on that most people you work for will be decent and will not give you a job they wouldn’t or they haven’t had to do in the past but you also always deserve to be treated with respect. You’re giving your time for free and you’re working hard. Interning can be super scary and you should be made to feel welcome and valued. If you’re being made to feel rubbish and you don’t feel like you’re getting what you need from the experience, I would suggest you start by addressing this with the person you are working closest to. It doesn’t have to be a rude or aggressive conversation but you might find they didn’t realise they were making you feel that way and it solves the issue. If not, you have a decision to make – this is when you need to know your worth.

Best of luck if you have an internship coming up or are in the process of applying- you’re going to absolutely smash it. If you have any more questions let me know in the comments below but for now, that’s all folks.

Jamie x

Leave a Reply